It was a great concert. It was also an emotional concert. The violist Peter Guroff passed away on Wednesday, February 7th following a long battle with lymphoma. I am writing eight days after his death and four days after the concert. For a long time to come I will link this concert with Peter’s death. I don’t know if Peter knew that he will no longer play Strauss’ ‘Death and Transfiguration’ but I hope he played it in his mind.
Not only ‘Death and Transfiguration’, Strauss’ tone poem depicting a journey of a man on his death bed, from great suffering to the embrace of infinity was gloriously performed, but Mozart’s ‘Symphony No.25’ and Brahms’ ‘Piano Concerto’ were composed in a minor key. Such a fitting coinsident…
Emanuel Ax, whose piano playing I always percieve as exquisite and gentle, was even more so at this concert. The encore he offered us (was it Schumann whom Brahms missed so much following his premature death?) was gentle & sad…
Were all these impressions only in my head? I hope that many of the audience felt the same; especially those who knew Peter personally and those who saw him all these years on stage.
Peter’s seat was left empty during Mozart’s emotional Symphony and a bouquet of white flowers rested there till the conclusion of the concert.
Before Jahja Ling, the Guest Conductor, came on stage, Cynthia Busch, Peter’s colleague from the Viola Section, addressed us with the sad news and told us (just a little…) about Peter the musian and Peter the friend. The Conductor, following each round of applaud, walked back stage and paused at Peter’s lonely seat.
In the PSO program Peter is still listed in the Viola
Section. An additional leaf was inserted. On one side I saw him
smiling: a young promising musician, holding his viola with pride. On
the other side he is looking mature & still smiling. This is how I
will remember him.